Eclipse Awards: Why This Year's Older Horse Division Is Great
Every year, we hear from Old Timers that the horses on the track just aren’t as good as in the past. The Triple Crown trail is weak if there’s no three-year-old standout, the two-year-olds look to be a cut below the horses of the past…it goes on and on. Hardest hit in the past few years has been the older horse division.
While people can argue all day about what retiring horses early does to the competitiveness of those on the track, this year racing seems to be giving back. Sure, we lost Uncle Mo to the breeding shed. But overall, the older horse division is pretty strong.
First off, all of last year’s Triple Crown race winners are returning. Two of them may have looked a little stiff in their debut this year but they had been off for three months after a hard three-year-old campaign. It’s likely they needed that race to get back in the groove.
Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom looked spectacular in his first race since the Belmont. Even if he did run against an allowance field, it was a race that made people stand up and take notice.
Animal Kingdom didn't have the only awe-inspiring race. Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse came back last weekend and made an amazing late run to get up for second in his return.
Still on the docket to return is Stay Thirsty, the runner up in the Belmont and the winner of the G1 Travers Stakes. He looks to make a midyear run in New York with a few big targets on his schedule.
These aren’t the only older horses returning to the track for another season. On the turf side, you have Get Stormy and others that look poised to have an entertaining year as well.
While it is safe to say that the past few years haven’t really boasted many name worthy horses to look up to in the older horse division, this year looks to be a lot different. Everywhere you look, there are either horses coming back from injury or just coming back after their three-year-old year.
For the first time in quite a few years, it’s safe to say that the Older Horse Division is one to watch carefully, because you don’t know who will return or what will happen next. The breeding shed may have captured a lot of the potential older horses over the last few years, but its safe to say that the track has won the battle this year.
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